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Insights Daily Current Events, 23 December 2014

Insights Daily Current Events, 23 December 2014

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Birth Anniversary of S. Ramanujan

It was the 127th Birth Anniversary of the great Indian Mathematician. It was celebrated as “National Mathematics Day”.

The mathematical genius compiled more than 3,900 mathematical results and equations. His Ramanujam Prime and Ramanujam theta discoveries had also inspired further research on the subject.

Some quick facts:

  • Life span: 22 December 1887 – 26 April 1920.
  • With almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.
  • Nearly all his claims have now been proven correct, although a small number of these results were actually false and some were already known.
  • The Ramanujan Journal, an international publication, was launched to publish work in all areas of mathematics influenced by his work.
  • Ramanujan’s home state of Tamil Nadu celebrates 22 December as ‘State IT Day’, memorialising both the man and his achievements, as a native of Tamil Nadu.
  • A stamp picturing Ramanujan was released by the Government of India in 1962 – the 75th anniversary of Ramanujan’s birth – commemorating his achievements in the field of number theory.
  • On the 125th anniversary of his birth, India declared the birthday of Ramanujan, 22 December, as ‘National Mathematics Day.’

Sources: PIB, Wiki.

Year end Review for the Ministry of Agriculture for the Year 2014-15

The Immediate challenge to the Ministry of Agriculture when the new Government had taken over, was to sustain the increasing agricultural output of the country in the face of impending deficit rainfall in this year 2014-15.

So, what was done?

  • All the requisite preparatory measures were made in coordination with the State governments to have the District-wise contingency action plans in place and to bring in flexibility in the various schemes in order that the States are enabled to cope with any desired changes in the Approved Action Plans for tackling the situation arising out of deficit rainfall.
  • With the perspective the Central Research Institute for Dry Land Agriculture (CRIDA) in collaboration with State Agricultural Universities and the State Governments has prepared crop contingency plans in respect of 576 districts across the country.
  • All necessary and appropriate steps have been taken to meet the seed and fertilizer requirement and to disseminate information and on suitable farming practices to be followed in such a situation.

INDIAN AGRICULTURE AT A GLANCE

  • Agriculture continues to be the backbone of Indian economy.
  • Agriculture sector employs 54.6% of the total workforce.
  • The total Share of Agriculture & Allied Sectors (Including Agriculture, Livestock, forestry and fishery sub sectors) in terms of percentage of Gross Domestic Product is 13.9 % during 2013-14 at 2004-05 prices.
  • For the 12th Plan (2012-17), a growth target of 4 percent has been set for the Agriculture Sector
  • As per the 4th Advance Estimates of Production of food grains for 2013-14, total food grain production is estimated to be 264.77 Million Tonnes.

Further Growth Strategy:

  • In order to keep up the momentum gained during the 11th Plan and achieve the targeted growth rate of 4% during the 12th Five Year Plan as also the ensure focused approach and to avoid overlap, all the ongoing 51 schemes of the Department have been restructured into five missions National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture Mission (MIDH), National Mission on Oil Seed and Oil Palm (NMOOP), National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), and National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET);
  • There are five Central Sector Schemes viz. National Crop Insurance Programme (NCIP), Intergrated Scheme on Agri-Census & Statistics (ISAC&S), Integrated Scheme of Agriculture Marketing (ISAM), Integrated Scheme of Agriculture Cooperation (ISAC) and Secretariat Economic Service; and one State Plan Scheme viz. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

 

What’s in the Budget?

Recognizing the importance of Agriculture Sector, the Government during the budget 2014-15 took a number of steps for sustainable development of Agriculture. These steps include

  • enhanced institutional credit to farmers;
  • promotion of scientific warehousing infrastructure including cold storages and cold chains in the country for increasing shelf life of agricultural produce;
  • Improved access to irrigation through Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichayee Yojana;
  • provision of Price Stabilisation Fund to mitigate price volatality in agricultural produce;
  • Mission mode scheme for Soil Health Card;
  • Setting up of Agri-tech Infrastructure fund for making farming competitive and profitable;
  • provide institutional finance to joint farming groups of “Bhoomi Heen Kisan” through NABARD;
  • development of indigenous cattle breeds and promoting inland fisheries and other non-farm activities to supplement the income of farmers.

Sources: PIB.

 

India to reach replacement levels of fertility by 2020

New official data shows that fertility is falling faster than expected in India, and the country is on track to reach replacement levels of fertility as soon as 2020.

The 2013 data for the Sample Registration Survey (SRS), conducted by the Registrar General of India, the country’s official source of birth and death data, was released recently.

The report shows that:

  • The Total Fertility Rate – the average number of children that will be born to a woman during her lifetime – in eight States has fallen below two children per woman.

 

  • Just nine States – all of them in the north and east, except for Gujarat – haven’t yet reached replacements levels of 2.1, below which populations begin to decline.
  • West Bengal now has India’s lowest fertility, with the southern States, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Among backward States, Odisha too has reduced its fertility to 2.1.

 

Experts say that, at 2.3, India is now just 0.2 points away from reaching replacement levels. Fertility is declining rapidly, including among the poor and illiterate. At this rate India will achieve its demographic transition and reach replacement levels as early as 2020 or 2022.

Survey on IMR:

  • The survey also noted down that India’s infant mortality rate (IMR) has fallen to 40 deaths per 1,000 live births and 49 deaths under the age of 5 for every 1,000 live births, but at these rates it is unlikely to meet its Millenium Development Goals for 2015.
  • IMR has fallen faster in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Among metro cities, Chennai has the lowest IMR (16). Among States, Kerala has by far the best – at 12 deaths per 1,000 live births; the next best States, Delhi and Maharashtra, have IMRs that are twice that of Kerala.

Demographic transition (DT) refers to the transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

Open up coal sector to enhance production, says Advisory Group

A report submitted by the advisory group to the government says that opening up of the coal sector and upgradation of state-run Coal India and its subsidiaries are vital for scaling up domestic production of the dry fuel.

Why was the Advisory Group Constituted?

The Advisory Group for Integrated Development of Power, Coal, and Renewable Energy was constituted for suggesting measures for enhancement of coal production in the short, medium and long-term.

Recommendations made by the Group:

  • The group has called for certain improvements in Coal India and its subsidiaries, including Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDI).
  • It has emphasised on the need for opening up the coal sector to supplement the domestic production of Coal India and a few other companies.
  • It touched upon the issues of coal block auction process, coal linkage rationalisation and swapping of coal linkages and stressed on the need for urgent action on coal linkages to power plants already commissioned, and likely to be commissioned by March, 2015.
  • Various options should be explored to develop railway infrastructure from coal mines to main railway system, including through a joint venture company on infrastructure by Coal India.
  • The group also called for expediting reforms in the distribution sector with targeted actions, including privatisation or PPP (public private partnership) in distribution.
  • There is also a need for enhanced role of and improvements in working of CEA (Central Electricity Authority), amendments to the Electricity Act, tariff policy and standard bidding documents.
  • Among various other suggestions, the group said the transmission constraints needed to be addressed.

Coal India accounts for about 80 per cent of total coal production.

Sources: The Hindu.

RBI modifies definition for non-cooperative borrower

The Reserve Bank of India has issued a new set of norms defining non-cooperative borrowers.

What are the effects?

  • Defaulting borrowers, who resort to legal and other means such as denying access to securities to make it difficult for banks to recover dues, will find it harder to raise fresh funds.
  • It will become tougher for banks to continue lending to such entities.

A sharp rise in stressed assets over the last few years had prompted RBI to frame corrective action that lenders can take to stem bad loans.

Under the New Norms:

  • There would be disincentives for lenders in the form of higher provisions if they give additional loans to such entities.
  • The framework includes setting up a joint lenders’ forum for specific accounts even before these slip into the sub-standard category and narrowing sources of funds for such borrowers by classifying them as non-cooperative borrowers if they are found to be “deliberately stonewalling legitimate efforts of lenders to recover their dues”.
  • Any fresh loan given to those classified as non-cooperative borrowers will attract higher provisions equivalent to that of a sub-standard asset (where the dues are not paid for 90 days) while the account can continue to be classified as a standard account. These provisions are much higher than the 5% prescribed by RBI in its February notification. Loans classified as substandard attract 15% provisions.
  • Banks have to make the higher provision of 15% even for loans given to any other company that has directors or promoters of companies that are classified as non-cooperative directors.
  • RBI has set a loan cut-off limit of Rs 5 crore and said independent directors and government nominees will be excluded from being classified as non-cooperative borrowers.
  • As for business enterprises, noncooperative borrowers would include persons in charge of and responsible for the management of the affairs of the enterprise.

RBI has defined a non-cooperative borrower as “one who does not engage constructively with his lender by defaulting in timely repayment of dues while having ability to pay, thwarting lenders’ efforts for recovery of their dues by not providing necessary information sought, denying access to assets financed or collateral securities, obstructing sale of securities”.

 

Sources: The Hindu.